Please note: these Jottings are purely personal comment, and do not necessarily or directly represent the policy of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative Group on Medway Council.
Long-term readers of these columns will recall what I wrote just after the previous (2003) local elections here in Medway. For anyone who might have missed that particular Jottings, it can be read here.
Personally, I found it useful to read through that column again, as it reminded me of all the problems that we had in respect of the political management of Medway Council up to that time. The decisive actions we took as the (then majority) Administration of the Council paid off hugely, as I can testify, having witnessed at first hand all that went before and all that followed the changes we made.
Okay, so the avergae person on the Chatham Omnibus isn't going to be all that interested in who does what on council committees; but this is where much of the policy that affects Medway people's lives in shaped: it should not be neglected. I know: I'm there, and I see what happens and its effect on our communities. Therefore I ask you to stay with me on this...
Personally, I still feel that it would have been better if we could have trusted the opposition groups to chair scrutiny committees effectively and usefully. I'd have been prepared to give up my own vice-chairmanship in furtherance of that end, for a start. However, it has been clear that nothing has materially changed in these four years, as far as the opposition parties are concerned, and the same individuals would gladly take up their old positions and their old ways if they were given the chance.
We must not let that happen!
At the annual Mayor-making Council meeting at the Corn Exchange, there were those who (inappropriately for that event!) tried to muscle-in on the scrutiny chairmanships by putting a Motion to that meeting. Fortunately it was soundly defeated; but it just went to show how deperate some of the opposition councillors are for power for themselves.
The recent election made it very clear whom the Medway population-at-large want to run their local affairs, and it certainly was not (except in a very minor way) any of the opposition parties or even any Independents (there is now only one of them left on the Council!) so why do they think they should have any positions of authority or influence beyond those of any other backbencher?
The correct answer is, of course, that they should not have any such positions. One day that might change—and that would be a good thing, because it would mean that they had cleaned-up their behaviour and their attitudes, and had become fit to take on such rôles—something that has not been the case to date.
When they realise, as we already do in my political group, that the whole idea is to serve the public and not themselves (either individually or as a political party) then—and only then—will opposition members have the correct outlook to successfully and usefully take on the higher responsibilities that they seek. By then they will also, of necessity, realise that such positions are not a convenience for the pursuit of their own aims, but a duty and, indeed, a burden that must be carried in order to achieve the best possible outcomes, even when these mean coming in for a lot of flak.
That's where I am, and my colleagues, and we shoulder those responsibiliteies very well. If I were just a resident with no connection to the council, that's what I'd want (no, expect!) my elected representatives to be and to do. I would have no truck with the power-seekers with their own agendas.
Fortunately, in Medway, most of those who voted last month seem to agree with me...